Hexham MP Guy Opperman has officially reopened the public toilets in the centre of Prudhoe after they were saved from possible closure following years of vandalism and neglect.

The toilets at Road Ends had deteriorated badly, and although some money was available to fund the repair work there was a £5,000 shortfall facing local taxpayers.

But the town’s largest employer, Essity Prudhoe Mill, stepped in and made a £5,000 donation to Prudhoe Town Council along with new soap dispensers, air freshener units, toilet roll holders and an ongoing supply of toilet rolls.

Until recently known as SCA, the company made the donation as part of its global Hygiene Matters initiative that seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world.

“Although this event has definitely raised a smile, the closure of any public toilets is no laughing matter,” said Mr Opperman.  “This is an amenity both for the people of the town and visitors, and I’m pleased to see what a great job has been done of the refurbishment.

“Northumberland County Council, Prudhoe Town Council and Essity have shown what can be achieved by coming together and working in partnership – and all three organisations should be applauded for their efforts.”

Manager at Prudhoe Mill – home of leading UK luxury toilet tissue brand Velvet – George Placogiannakis said: “We are proud of the role we play in the town where many of our employees live as well as work – and have supported a number of local initiatives over the years.

“But this is the biggest single donation we have ever made, and the first since our Swedish parent company changed its name from SCA to Essity earlier this year.

“It reflects our belief that everyone should have access to basic facilities like this – and with an ageing population, and families with young children, this was an amenity  Prudhoe could not afford to lose.  We are pleased to have been able to work with the town council to make this happen.”

Town mayor Cllr Gerry Price added: “I am delighted that the Road Ends toilets have now been completely renovated, and that our local MP Guy Opperman was able to join us and perform the opening ceremony.

“The town council has always been committed to retaining these toilets as a public amenity in the town but were concerned at their deteriorating state.

“Although we were happy to contribute, alongside county council funding, for the renovation of the toilets we were delighted that the generous donation from Essity saved this burden on local tax payers.

“The town council is confident that the toilets will remain as an asset in the town and on behalf of all residents are very appreciative of the funding from Essity and the commitment of Northumberland County Council to bring them back to an acceptable standard.”